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tv   American Artifacts 4th Infantry Division D- Day  CSPAN  April 6, 2020 11:33am-12:06pm EDT

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pam pment encampment at the group. we talked to him in carlisle, pennsylvania, hosted by the army heritage and education center. >> my name is jarrod frederic. i'm an instructor of history at penn state altoona and i'm also a re-enactor with the furious fourth world war ii living history group. and we are here at army heritage days at the u.s. army heritage and education center in carlisle, pennsylvania. and at this event it is a major complex. we're here on the army heritage trail. and one can find re-enactor or living historians from all different time periods. ranging from the 17th century up to the present. my group here is to discuss the normandie ib sahratian which is taking place this summer. we thought it certainly fitting
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to commemorate that event. d us putting on these old uniforms, wearing old equipment, it certainly gives us a better perspective and appreciation of what the greatest generation went through. if he we can impart even a small inkling of that to passers by and people that visit this place, we feel we've done a fairly good job. the unit that we portray is the fourth infantry division. and it's a unit that's sometimes overshadowed in the realm of world war ii history. but nonthe less, it is one of the spear head units involved in the normandy invasion. it was some of the first amphibious troops that are with ashore and they waded ashore on utah beach. unknown to many of them at that time, they had actually landed on the wrong sector. they had landed about a half mile off course and there was a little bit of uncertainty,
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perhaps hesitation as to what exactly they should do. but the assistant division commander, theodore roosevelt jr., son of the president, the soldest american participant in the invasion said very defiantly, we're going to start the war right here. and indeed that, is what they did. they carried the fight inland into the normandie countryside where they really began to talley up casualties. the unit fought all throughout mainland europe. they were the first american troops in the paris. they were the first american troops into germany. but unfortunately, it inflicted a very grim toll. the unit and the entirety throughout the war suffered about 250% casualties. there is just a perpetual stream of wounded killed and then their replacements after that were being killed and wounded as well. so it was an absolutely
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devastating affair. but many of the men in the unit had the firm conviction that they needed to do this because there was really no other choice:this was the price of stopping fascism and its spread. and as many many world war ii veterans say to this very day, it's something that had to be done. and 75 years later, that's something they still firmly believe in. of course theodore roosevelt jr. had a long military lun i can imagine in his family. his father went up san juan hill during the spanish american war. then a number of years later, theodore roosevelt expected all of his sons to serve in world war i. and theodore roosevelt said of his sons, he said, i would look upon them with shame if they didn't serve in the same way i look upon my daughters with shame if they didn't have children. so those are kind of the two expect stations for his kids.
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and junior really lived up to those expectations. he served in world war i. he was in fact a political rival with cousin franklin roosevelt during the great depression the but when world war ii started, the two cousins put differences aside, theodore jr. wanted to get into the military once again. initially he served in the first infantry division. he served in the big red one which is one of the few battle tested divisions to go into normandie. however, roosevelt didn't gain a lot of acclaim or trust in the eyes of omar bradley or george patent. theodore roosevelt jury had a very laid back command persona and that didn't -- that wasn't up to snuff with somebody who was spit and polished as george patton was. and omar bradley thought he got a little too comfortable and too
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cozy and laid back with the soldiers and there wasn't that sort of rigid discipline that makes a good soldier a good soldier. and so he was removed from command in the first infantry division. he wasn't down-and-out. and he landed a spot as the assistant division commander in the fourth infantry division in the months immediately prior to the normandy invasion. and roosevelt pleaded with his commander, general raymond tubby barton, that was his name. nickname. he was just unsure p he wanted to go ashore with his men. barton finally acquiesced. barton realized at this moment this is going to be the end of this general. his health was failing. he was suffering from chest pains and wasn't telling anybody about it. and he had very bad arthritis. his mobility in some places was very limited. but nonetheless, he went ashore with the fourth division and won
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of the secondary waves on june 6th. he had a cane in one hand. he had a pistol in the other. and he stayed with his men through thick and thin. he rode around in his jeep which was called rough rider which, of course, is named after his father's unit. unfortunately, though, his poor health did catch up with him and only a few weeks after the invasion. he suffered a fatal heart attack. and he also becomes one of the highest ranking americans to be killed in france as the invasion was on going as well. and he rests in the normandie american cemetery to this very day next to the remains of his brother quinenton who was kille in the first world war. so right now we would like to walk us -- walk you through our camp here a little bit. and perhaps offer a little bit of perspective on the gi experience. we'll start here around the
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back. now often when americans think of the second world war, they think of helmets. they think of weapons. they think of sherm an tanks. war is this stuff too. it is the subtle, small stuff, the every day stuff that soldiers used on an every day basis. and they certainly weren't eating five star meals as they were out in france in 1944. and these units of food that would come for breakfast, dinner and supper were really the staple of the gi diet. and often there would be a small can of food inside, some crackers, some bubble gum, and other instances this he would even include cigarettes which was actually part of the ration.
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if they were lucky they might be able to acquire a radio along the way. but when folks look at this sort of stuff, it offers them a moment of empathy. you know, when you look at something like toothpowder or soap or a razor blade, these were the things that, you know, we would see on our father's and grandfather's, you know, bathroom shelves as we were growing up. and so it's often the common every day stuff that fascinates me and sometimes fascinates visitors as well. so we'll talk a little bit more about magazines, about the press, about newspapers at the time as well. at one of our later stops. so we head over to our re-creation of a small gi encampment. you can see the members here
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having lunch, chowing down in an authentic way. authentic to nap, too. a very common staple of the gi experience there, too. on average, an american sole xwer w soldier is 22 years of age, weighed about 150 pounds. he had gone through the great depression. he was used to sacrifice and perhaps being short on supplies. and unfortunately that economic hardship well prepared a lot of american youth for the forthcoming struggles in this global war. among the iconic features of the american uniform is the helmet itself. and for all intents and purposes, this was the home of the american gi. and it was a multipurpose tool. it would be used no the only for protection against raining
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fragments shells, splinters, rock, what have you, he could also use it for a lot more things. and this is an original helmet. and i don't know who used it. and i care i didn't think on and in his memory nonetheless. what manufacturers would do with the steel pots to diminish the shine and enhance the camouflage of it, they would mix sand within the green paint and that rough texture that you see on the helmet would diminish the shine and offer some additional camouflage. there are a lot of other things that a soldier can do. he could use it as a pot. after all, it was a steel pot. if you were lucky enough to find
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an egg, you might be able to cook it inside of that. and also, you could use it as a wash basin, hold it under you, be able to shave your face. use it as a chair. use it as a pillow, one of the really notable phrases, a well known memoir is helmet for my pillow. finally, to be used as storage in a way. something that wraelzy popular among the troops were small compact books that were called arms service editions. and american publishers gave these out by the tens of millions during the war. and american soldiers love of reading and literacy that they would later use after the war to, you know, use the gi bill for higher education was instilled during that time. so they could shove those books in here. but what they did most is they would put photographs inside. and this is actually a photo of
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my grandmother and what she looked like during the world war ii years. and like many young american women, she married a world war ii veteran when he came home from the service. and i carry this photo not only in honor of her but in honor of the man that she married at the end of the war. that's my way of paying small tribute to some of my family history. and if i could have an m 1, please, i'll show them that. thank you. this was the primary weapon of an american soldier that was fighting in europe. this could be slid back like this. you could put a eight round block there within the rifle. and, you know, general patton said this is essentially the weapon that would help win the second world war.
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and it is quite hefty, quite heavy. all things considered. but it really made a major contribution to the american war effort. and indeed, it was used on through the korean war and even some circumstances the vietnam war. and there are some militaries to this very day that have surplus of these and still use them in their active military. thank you very much. as we, you know, we browse the camp here and look at all the equipment, it really gives us a sense of the things that these soldiers carried. when some of the first initial waves of the normandy invasion took place, a lot of these american combatants had 70, 80, sometimes even 90 pounds of gear on them. and the code name for the operation that they were participating in was known as
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operation overlord. and it could have well been operation overload because these guys were packed down like mules. and when i talk about this in the classroom or sometime when, you know, a young family comes in, we might dress up, you know, a young person in a d day kit to give them a sense of the weight of war, so to speak, it is something i do in the classroom, too, and, you know, it really, you know, weighs down on them. both physically and psychologically. to think that they were wearing 80 pounds of gear, they're being heaved off the landing craft into 7 feet of water while people are shooting at them and then they need to waddle up several hundred yards of beach that has land mines and obstacles all throughout it. when you take that into consideration, it really gives you a humbling perspective on what the d day experience was. not only for americans but for
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the british, french, and canadian troops that stormed ashore that day as well. so we're well to consider this weight of war and the things that they carried, you know, as we think about this 75 years later. the american tents that u.s. gis used was often called the shelter half tent. and in many ways, it symbolized the notion of team work, the very essence of camaraderie. because there is one half of a tent. each soldier would have one half of a tent. to have a full tent, you need to team up with a battle buddy. so he could bring his other half and then you could share one. and there were a lot of different variations on this and how they used it and the tents often got as large as creativity and materials would allow americans soldiers and sometimes they would get six or eight of them together to make really big tents because then you could pile eight guys into it and then
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if you're in the fall or winter, all of those additional people inside a tent were offered additional body heat, might keep you a little bit warmer. unfortunately for a lot of guys, they moved so frequently quickly that a lot of times they didn't even have the opportunity to set up a tent or an encampment perhaps like we have here today. and the advance into europe was monotonous, it was strenuous. and it brought about some of the most enduring hardships that could be imagined. there is one story of an american lieutenant that we often like to share with visitors and students. there is a lieutenant by the name of george wilson. and he wore the same pair of socks for five months. and he never once had the opportunity to take off his shoes and wash his feet. and come spring of 1945 when he finally had an opportunity to
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bathe, he went to take off his socks and it peeled the skin off his feet. so when we think of world war ii we think of combat and big planes and tanks but it is really small human interest stories that illustrate the gi experience more than anything else. they're short on supplies. they go into wintertime combat without the proper clothing or equipment and it was certainly no vacation. the story of artifacts, of course, is nothing without the story of people. and when visitors come into our various displays we like them to reflect upon that human element as well. and here on this board we have a few tangible reminders of all of that. perhaps most notably are copies of a d-day diary that was kept by a lieutenant in the fourth infantry division, this gentleman pictured on the right
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and his name was sydney monse and he he operated a 81 millimeter mortar, one of which we'll show you in a moment, as they landed on utah beach. and some of the words that he has to offer about his experiences are quite profound. he talked about his men and his comrades falling to his left and his right. he's scavenging the beach and looking for pieces of ammunition and equipment that he will need later along the way. and once more that personal element, it really helps bring history to life and that is really one of the fundamental reasons of why we're out here, to impart this knowledge to younger generations that may never have the opportunity to talk to a world war ii veteran. so we see ourselves as an important conduit of sorts in transferring on the knowledge to other people. another notable individual that we see on here is another
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lieutenant in the fourth infantry who was named bill chapman. like sydney, he operated an 81 millimeter mortar and he offers all sorts of unique perspective. there is a book recently written about him. and later on in the war, the fourth infantry served in a place called the herken forest and for those lucky enough to survive it they called it the deng factory because it was this perpetual conveyer belt of men being sent to the front lines almost needlessly or heedlessly and mr. chapman was one of the lucky survives of that carnage. as a lot of service members were working across the european continent, some things that gave them add the inspiration or information was things like this. and this is a reproduction of
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stars and stripes, the official army newspaper and still in publication to this very day. and this issue is a copy june 7th, 1944. and there were two really big even events that happened there in the first week of june. one of them is a bit overshadowed because two days before the invasion of normandy took place the city of rome was also liberated so there was a mad dash for the headlines, who would grab the most attention and grab the most news and unfortunately for those serving in italy and general mark clark their commanding officer among them was a bit jealous by the level of headlines that the normandy invasion grabbed. and indeed there were about 150,000 troops involved in the opening phases. and soldiers got fragmentary reports here in this early edition talking about the invasion.
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but periodicals like this underscored a bigger point about why americans believed they were fighting this war. and they saw a freedom of speech, the freedom of the press and the sanctity of journalism and literacy as a fundamental element of why they are fighting this war. their access to information and books, they believed that was part of the democratic notion that represented their country. and in some ways those notions are outlined in the speech that general eisenhower gave to his troops on d-day. this is issued by the tens of thousands in leaflet form to the troops and he also delivered a radio address where he outlined this as well. in many ways it could be considered the 1944 equivalent of the getsberg address. he's saying we have a fight to
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continue. it is a horrible fight. but it must go on because consequences of not doing so or losing it are too horrific to take into comprehension. much like how slavery needed to be destroyed, fascism in the form of slavery that came with it was something that needed to be defeated. so his men took this message to heart. eisenhowerer developed a espirit de corp and they fought so hard and so diligently on his behalf. and of course, too, the harder they fight the war, the sooner the war will be over. another element i would like to show you is a weapon that we have over here. and this is an 81 millimeter mortar. i've mentioned this a little bit in some of our talk prior to all of this. and my good friends mike and
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andy are going to tell us a little bit about that. >> hello, everybody. i'm here to talk about the 81 millimeter mortar. this is designed by french in the '30s and the u.s. army got ahold of it and they liked the idea because up until that point in wrororld war i, they sat the and world i was more stagnant and they could sit there but in the future they wanted to have a more mobile war and this fulfilled the bill. if our 8-1 millimeter mortar and it was one miami smaller than ours and we could fire our rounds out of their but they couldn't fire out of ours. and we made a smaller version, a 60 millimeter mortar for transportable than this. three men would carry the mortar
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in the different pieces. you could see here you have the barrel, the bi-pod and the base plate down here. each piece weighs about 43 pounds so one guy would carry each piece and then a bunch of guys carrying the ammo, you could see here to my right. the smaller rounds here, these are -- these are the m-43 rounds in a card board transport that is semi waterproofed. it could go about 3,300 yards and it was used for anti-personnel and light vehicle and this is the work horse of the mortar rounds that a crew like this would use. you have increment charges in the end. that is what produces the blast that propelled the mortar round out of the tube and a super quick fuse. so the second this touches anything it will explode once it leaves the tube. the bigger round we have here,
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this bigger round we have here is m-56 and the m-56 had a delayed fuse and that is good for shooting at buildings, bunkers, any fortified structure that the germans might have been in. so enters through the roof and then it is a millisecond before it explodes inside of the building. this had shorter range, about 2,400 yards. they also had a similar round. it was called an m-57 and it was a white for forrous used to sob skewer vision of the enemy and it produced casualties because once it hits the air it burns and burns and they used it to create casualties too. you might see on this round or this box of rounds we have a life belt inflated. when the troops landed on d-day, some of them put packages of ammo on so that if they dropped
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the ammo in the channel it would float and they could retrieve it easily and be issued the shoulder pads to carry the heavy ammunition on the shoulders. back to the gun. a gun would be used for all kinds of things. the regiment and battalion commanders would call this hip pocket artillery and it could go into the battlefield and shoot whenever they needed it. at times they would consolidate many groups together for density of fire and other times dispatch one or two mortar guns by themselves with units. this weapon system is carried been eight-man squad. you had the gunner and two assistant gunners and a squad leader and the rest carry the ammunition. they would go through a lot of ammunition. 18 rounds a minute was the
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maximum amount they could fire before it heated. >> so we hope that offers insider perspective on some of the daily trials and tragedies and triumphs that american world war ii soldiers went through. as we've been talking here, a number of world war ii veterans have come into the camp and they are the reason why we're out here. we are here to hear their stories firsthand and impart them to other generations and we certainly encourage viewers to do much the same thing. we thank you for coming to visit our encampment today. >> >> hey, bob. >> they want to get a picture here. a group picture. >> big red one. >> what regiment were you with? >> 18. >> 26. >> a blue skater. that is my re-enactment group. >> oh, yeah? >> we're not here today. >> he was on the destroyer and
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he saw the raising of the flag on iwo jima. >> i'm dick donald, our ship was damaged the night before, kamikaze attack. the last aircraft carrier in the war was sunk alongside of our ship and then we had to limp into iwo jima and put the bow on yellow beach and watching the marines with the flame throwers mopping up the tunnels, to me the marines never get along well. it is always a fight. but i learned to love the marines in that day. and then suddenly the brightest -- the brightest sons, up goes that flag. i was 19 at the time. and for the first time my fifth invasion, i had seven altogether, it hit me why we kids were willing to die for
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that magnificent flag. and we did. and we did. two-thirds of us never left the island. two-thirds. but two guys from the flag raising walked off that island. >> thank you, gentlemen. >> thank you for coming to visit us today. weeknight this is month, we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight, the national history center which hosts eevents on capitol hill for congressional members and staff to learn the history behind contemporary issues. we begin with scholars from rice and georgetown university and the u.s. naval war college on the role of middle east oil in american foreign policy since the end of world war ii. american history tv, this week and every weekend on c-span 3.
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>> every saturday night american history tv takes you to college classrooms around the country for lectures in history. >> why do you all know who lizzy borden is and raise your hand if you ever heard of this murder, the gene harris murder trial before this class? >> the deepest cause where we'll find the true meaning of the revolution was in the transformation that took place in the minds of the american people. >> so we're going to talk about both of these sides of the story here, right. the tools, the techniques of slave owner power and wee also talk about the tools and techniques of power that we are practiced by enslaved people. >> watch history professors lead discussions with students on topics ranging from the american revolution to september 11th. lectures in history on c-span 3 every saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv. and available as a podcast. find it where you listen to
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podcasts. army heritage days takes place reach may at the u.s. army heritage and education center in carlisle, pennsylvania. hundreds of hobbyist conduct demonstrations and talk about military subjects ranging from the american revolution to the war on terror. this year's theme was the 75th anniversary of d-day. up next, we visit an exhibit about world war ii soviet soldiers. army heritage days is an annual event held in may at u.s. army heritage and education center in carlisle, pennsylvania. hundreds of living history hobbyists are selected by the center to conduct demonstrations an talk to the public about military subjects ranging from the american revolution to the war on terror. the theme this year was the 75th anniversary of d-day. next, on american artifacts, we visit an exhibit about world war ii soviet solds.


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